These easy basic Chocolate Cupcakes are frosted with a smooth and velvety vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream. Dutch processed cocoa powder gives them an intense chocolate flavor, that will satisfy your pickiest chocolate lover.
It’s hard to pick my favorite dessert, because I love them all. But if I have to choose one flavor to live with for the rest of my life, it would have to be chocolate. I can eat chocolate cake all day and night. I’ve got a stash of truffles in the fridge for an emergency midday chocolate craving. And these intensely chocolaty chocolate cupcakes with simple vanilla buttercream are like a pantry basic to me.
How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes
This easy chocolate cupcake recipe starts with lots of cocoa powder. It is the main flavor of the cupcake, so use a high quality cocoa powder. I used half natural cocoa powder and half dutch processed cocoa powder in this batch. The dutch process cocoa powder gives these cupcakes the intense chocolate flavor. So if you plan to use only one type of cocoa powder in this recipe, go for dutch process, it will result in a very delicious end product.
I use buttermilk for almost all of my cupcake recipes; this helps create moist and tender crumbs. Buttermilk is mixed with vegetable oil (or any flavorless oil will do), egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula until combined. I don’t use a mixer for cupcake batter because it is easy to over-mix the batter that way, which can create tougher cupcakes.
My favorite way to divide cupcake batter is with a Large Ice Cream/Cookie Scoop. It makes the process so much quicker, easier and cleaner. About one flat scoop is enough per cupcake; this is equivalent to approximately 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake. Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached. These cupcakes dome beautifully.
I chose a simple vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream for these cupcakes to show case the chocolate flavor front and center. But they are the perfect base for so many wonderful flavor frosting like chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream or even a tangy strawberry cream cheese frosting. For step by step tutorial on how to make vanilla or chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, be sure to visit my post from earlier this week.
More Chocolate Cupcakes
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (170 g)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (54 g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (180 g)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (1 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (2 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (4 g)
- 1 cup buttermilk (231 g, room temperature)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (50 g)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (4 g)
- 4 oz egg white (115 g)
- 3/4 cup vanilla sugar (140 g)
- 3/4 teaspoon vinegar (4 g)
- 10 oz unsalted butter (283 g, room temperature, cubed)
Make the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix with a whisk to distribute evenly. Set aside.
- Add buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl. Beat together with a whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and fold until just combined.
- Use a large ice cream scoop to divide batter into the previously prepared muffin pan. One flat scoop of batter for each cupcake cavity, or about 1/4 cup of batter each.
- Bake in the middle oven rack for 17 - 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to the touch, remove cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the frosting
- Add egg white to the stand mixer bowl and beat with a wire whisk attachment on medium low speed until frothy.
- Increase speed to medium and slowly add vanilla sugar, one tablespoon at a time to allow it to incorporate into the egg white. Half way through adding the sugar, stream in the vinegar. Then continue to add the sugar until all gone.
- Increase speed to medium high speed and beat until stiff peak forms and the meringue is shiny and smooth.
- Reduce speed to medium low and slowly add the room temperature cubed butter, one cube at a time and allow it to incorporate into the meringue. When all the butter is added it will look chunky, like cottage cheese. This is how it’s supposed to look so don’t be alarmed.
- Increase mixer to high speed and beat for 4-5 mins until buttercream is formed and smooth. During this time, the mixture will look separated, broken and sad, don’t worry, it will come together with time.
- Add a piping tip of your choice to a pastry bag, fill with the frosting and add frosting to the cooled cupcakes.
- I made this recipe with 1/2 natural cocoa powder and 1/2 dutch-processed cocoa powder. If you’re planning to use only 1 type of cocoa powder, dutch-processed is recommended for this recipe to yield a more intense chocolate flavor.
- These cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made, but they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving.
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature overnight, then add frosting in the morning, if desired. Frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated if not eaten right away.
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